Unconventional hotels in Southeast Asia
Let’s face it, most of us would not be able to appreciate the wilderness the way Bear Grylls does. But who says that being one with nature requires one to roll around in the mud and live on berries? Believe it or not, you can experience nature in its pure form while still living in luxury.
Here is a list of unique hotels near Singapore that will allow you to live out your Tarzan fantasies while still indulging in the high life.
1. Fulfil your Disney dreams at Mercure Danang French Village
Image adapted from Justgola
Ba Na Hills might just be what Ed Sheeran pictured when he sang Castle on a Hill. Just 2 hours away from Singapore, Mercure Danang French Village Bana Hills is situated in the city of Danang, Vietnam.
Just imagine channelling your inner Belle as you waltz down the stairwells and prance around the 19th century inspired castle and the surrounding mini European village.
Image credit: Mercure Danang French Village Bana Hills
The chilly mountainous winds here will almost make you forget you’re in Southeast Asia, but if you still want a swim, don’t be afraid of freezing. The swimming pool has temperature control, so you can enjoy your laps.
You can also try your hand at yoga or tai-chi, or take a cable car ride for views of the mountain range.
Rates: From $103/night (Book here)
Getting there: A taxi ride from Danang city will take about an hour.
2. Stay on top of an old rock mine at Nhapha Khao Yai Resort
Image credit: Nhapa Khao Yai
Built on top of an old rock mine, the Nhapha Khao Yai Resort was transformed from a limestone cave to today’s posh hotel by its artist owner, who adorns it with numerous artworks around the resort.
Image credit: @drunkangel
The limestone walls of the rooms here look like marble, evoking a minimalistic, Scandinavian vibe that’ll look great in all your #wanderlust pictures. And yes, the villas are modern, so there’s free wifi for you to do all your uploading too.
Image credit: @247journeyy
There are two villas available, the smaller Villa Ping Pha Hin perfect for couples and the Grand Villa Chom Hin Pha which can house up to 6 people. Just the thing for a trip with your BFFs.
Rates: From $157/night (Book here)
Getting there: Fly into Pak Chong and arrange with the resort for free transportation.
3. Live in a floating house at Z9 Resort in Kanchanaburi
Image credit: Z9 resort
If you’ve heard of the floatel trend, this is one not to miss. The Z9 resort in Kanchanaburi boasts a unique tunnel-like design with tiled roofs, and you can easily step onto a private terrace with unobstructed views of mountains and clear reservoir waters.
If you fancy a day of lazing in the sun, you can lounge about on the beanbags placed at the communal lounge or even kayak around the reservoir if you’re the more active sort.
Image credit: Z9 resort
Else, sleep in till noon in rustic cabin-like rooms that look straight out of an interior design magazine.
With only 20 rooms, this resort is like an island on its own. So if you’re one of those people that prefer places far from the tourist crowd, this will be right up your alley.
Rates: From $188/night (Book here)
Getting there: About a 4 hour drive from Don Mueang international airport.
4. Peer into the mirror with these Parallel Cabins in Kuantan
Image credit: Time Capsule Retreat
Instead of hopping on a 10 hour flight to Switzerland to stay in the famous mirror cubes, visit Kuantan, Malaysia for a similar experience without breaking the bank. Introducing the Parallel Cabins - the world’s first rectangular glass retreat.
The cabins come with a deck and a private jacuzzi, and full length glass windows that give you a 180-degree view of the outdoors and the perfect opportunity for a #reflectiongram.
It’s also a 2-minute drive from Sungai Lembing town where you can grab some food and visit the Sungei Lembing museum.
Rates: $166.47/ night (Book here)
Getting there: A 50-minute drive from Kuantan Airport
5. Stay in a treehouse at the Green Village Bamboo House
Image credit: @pontiki8
Think Robinson Crusoe’s treehouse, but upgraded - you’ll get The Green Village Bamboo House.
Living in this abode would be a unique experience since it’s almost entirely constructed out of bamboo.
Perfect photo spot: This tunnel-like structure that connects one room to the next, found in Sharma Springs villa. Image credit: @maimelali
There are different types of houses and villas, each with a unique design. From studio-style pavilions like the Pondok Nagato to grand villas like the Sharma Springs, you’ll be able to see how bamboo is used to create even the most complicated of designs.
There are private gardens and pools for you to bask in the sunlight or enjoy a poolside barbeque. Not forgetting the outdoor spa if you’re in need of some TLC. Also, there are cool facilities like an office on the top floor, a media room and a kid’s playroom.
Each treehouse has 4 bedrooms, each with their own private bathroom, kitchen, lounge and dining area - so get ready to live like royalty.
Rates: from $398/night (Book here)
Getting there: A 1 hour drive from Ngurah Rai international airport
6. Enjoy riverside living at Nandini Bali Jungle Resort and Spa
Image credit: Nandini Bali
Escape the hustle and bustle of city life at the tranquil Nandini Bali Jungle resort and Spa. Nestled along the slopes of the Ayung River valley, this hidden resort boasts 18 villas set with impeccable views of the river.
Cocktail bar in a thatched hut by the pool. Image credit: @marytilson
But if poolside lounging is more your thing, enjoy the high life and order a mojito by the pool - right in the middle of the jungle. You can unwind even more fully at the hotel’s Sungei spa, which offers all guests a one-time Balinese couples massage.
And once you’re all charged up and ready to go, try your hand at Telaga Waja River Rafting, a 45-min drive from the resort.
Image credit: Alam amazing
Rates: from $173.25 /night (Book here)
Getting there: 1 hour 45 min drive from Bali Airport.
7. Experience living above paddy fields at Firefly Eco lodge
Image credit: @gemtracktravel
Just a few minutes away from the hustle and bustle of Ubud lies Firefly Eco Lodge, a Balinese nature retreat that promises the experience of living in a treehouse.
Even though they offer normal hotel rooms, go straight for the treehouse, bird’s nest or cottage options so you can be as close to nature as possible. Note that the bathrooms are furnished with modern toilets so no, you won’t need to dig a hole to answer nature’s call.
Image credit: @ubudhood
As the treehouse villa is situated in the middle of a rice plantation, you’d be waking up to the sight of rice farmers going about their day. Firefly Eco Lodge also grows most of the food they serve, so expect to be treated to traditional vegetarian Balinese meals while here.
Image credit: @chachamounette
If you just want to experience the resort life but still have access to amenities like WiFi, air conditioning and private showers, you can opt for their standard rooms. But the resort on a whole has a pool, patio and the best part - a swing above the paddy fields.
For $52/night, this is one place you wouldn’t want to miss.
Rates: From $52/night (Book here)
Getting there: 1 hour taxi ride from Bali Airport to the town of Ubud
8. Sleep under the stars in Bubble Hotel Bali
Image credit: @liburanbali
If you like stargazing, this hotel will take it up a notch with its one-of-a-kind bubble tents.
No getting down and dirty or roughing it out in tents here. At The Bubble Hotel Bali, you can look at the star-studded sky in a forested area, all while lounging on a king-sized bed.
Tip: If you don’t feel comfortable sleeping in a completely transparent bubble, you can close your curtains for added privacy.
Just a few metres away, you can also enjoy your own private beach! Image credit: WedMeGood
And for those of you that like your creature comforts, rejoice. Air conditioning is provided and there are fully equipped shower facilities and toilet, so, nope, you won’t have to build a makeshift bathroom in the wild.
Bonus: Besides marshmallow roasting with bae over a campfire, you can also enjoy barbeques or candlelit dinners for special occasions! Just let the hotel know and be prepared to pay a little extra.
Rates: From $135/night (Book here)
Getting there: A 43 minute drive from Denpasar Ngurah Rai International Airport/120 min drive from Ubud
9. Soak up natural minerals at The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat
Image credit: @expatgomy
If you’re tired of the grind and need some serious pampering, check in to The Banjaran Hotsprings Retreat. This luxury getaway is situated in a valley surrounded by a tropical forest and is the place for rejuvenation.
Think thermal baths, multiple hot springs, customised facials and even a fish spa, so you can achieve baby soft feet even after a day of hiking.
A natural hot spring to soothe all those tired muscles. Image credit: Destinasi
The villas here are indulgences in themselves too. Choose from Garden, Water and Lake villas that come with amenities like a private plunge pool, outdoor rain shower and a hot tub filled with natural geothermal hot spring water. We won’t blame you if you decide to hole up.
Spacious villas that come with separate living spaces - and a butler service to boot! Image credit: @elio_de.nardi
Image credit: @beautiventures
Bonus: Round up a day of relaxation with a unique dining experience at Jeff’s cellar. Situated inside a natural limestone cave, you’ll be having your meal with crystals hanging above and surrounded by rocks that are over a million years old.
Rates: from $370/night (Book here)
Getting there: 15-minute drive from the city of Ipoh, 2 hours from Kuala Lumpur.
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